UC Davis Geology Department


earth_and_physical_sciences_building_south_end.jpgWhere rocks are housed.

Earth and Physical Sciences Building
Office Location
2119 Earth and Physical Sciences Building (EPHSCI or EPS)
Office Phone
(530) 752-0350

  1. Degrees
  2. Courses
    1. Lower Division
    2. Upper Division
    3. Discontinued Courses
  3. Camping Trips
  4. Clubs

For the geology of Davis itself see, Geology.
velociraptor_free_zone.jpgYou're normally free to work and learn here without fear of Velociraptors.

The UC Davis Geology Department is part of the College of Letters and Science and has diverse faculty researching and teaching many different facets of geology. Important leaders in the geological world have worked out of UC Davis and they include Eldridge Moores (emeritus; famous structural geologist) and [WWW]Howard Day. The department focuses heavily on field experience and mapping.

In the first week of September 2009 the geology department began moving to the new Earth and Physical Sciences Building from the then Physics/Geology building. According to an email from the department, the department's office moved on September 14th to 2119C.

The cores and boulders (rock samples) outside the new building come from the GRANITE corporation. An alumni working for GRANITE has been helping the department collect a wide variety of specimens from all across California. These samples are often used as part of the geology curriculum.

Due to budget cuts, the department’s website may be shut down as it is currently hosted on its own server. Because of that, the department is trying to embrace SmartSite for class use.

Geology department is a Velociraptor-Free work place, thus you need not fear your life within its halls (except on Picnic Day).


The department offers BA, BS, MS and PhD degrees in Geology as well as minors including:

The department also offers a BS in Natural Sciences, a scientifically broad degree designed for people who want to be science teachers.

The BS in Geology is intended for those that expect to do primarily geological field work or research in their careers. The BA was developed to allow students to seek breadth based on their interests and who may expect geology to be ancillary to their careers. Both are seen as quite acceptable for graduate school. However, geology graduate students with a BA from UC Davis may be required to make up petrology courses.


Geology courses use the GEL prefix. Here are some of the courses in the department. Most of these are major required for more info check out the department site.

There are two informal "tracks" to be taken, each requiring one year (or one total if you're insane).

Petrology: 60+62 (Fall) => 105 (Winter) => 106 (Spring)

Structure: 50 (previous year) => 100 (Fall) => 101 (Winter) => 103 (Spring) => 110 (Summer)*
* the structure series may change for Fall 2011, see class descriptions for details

Important note: If you want to properly learn GIS and avoid serious frustration during GEL 100/101 and 103, think about enrolling in LDA 150 or ABT 180 (whenever it is offered again) in the Fall. Both courses teach important concepts of GIS and the basic methods of using a GIS. With a 4 unit gap due to changes in the Structure series, you may be able to convince your advisor to accept a introductory GIS course as a replacement.

Lower Division

geology_dept_picnic_day_2009_geologic_time_walk.jpgThe Geology Department rocks Picnic Day!

GEL 1-The Earth (All Quarters)

GEL 3-History of Life (Winter Quarter)

GEL 35-Rivers (Spring Quarter)

GEL 50-Physical Geology (Fall and Winter Quarters)

GEL 60-Earth Materials (Fall Quarter)

GEL 62-Introduction to Optical Mineralogy (Fall Quarter)

Upper Division

Note: the structure series will very likely change for the 2011/2012 academic year. GEL 100/100L will no longer be offered starting Fall 2011. This will create a 4-unit gap for all Geology majors, which at the moment may be filled by taking electives in consultation with academic advisors. Rumor is that a geophysics course may be required in the future. This change for the 2011/2012 Academic year is currently undergoing the approval process.

GEL 101-Tectonics (Winter Quarter)

GEL 103-Spring Field (Spring Quarter)

GEL 105-Igneous Petrology (Winter Quarter)

GEL 106-Metamorphic Petrology (Spring Quarter)

GEL 107-Paleobiology (Fall and Spring Quarters)

GEL 108-Paleoclimates (Spring Quarter)

GEL 109-Sediments and Strata (Winter Quarter)

GEL 110-Summer Field Geology (Summer)

GEL 134-Environmental Geology and Land Use Planning (Winter)

GEL 146 - Isotopic Geochemistry (Fall, alternate years, last offered 2009)

GEL 150B - Geologic Oceanography / Marine Geology (Winter)

GEL 163 - Planetary Geology (Spring)

Discontinued Courses

GEL 100-Structure (Fall Quarter)

Camping Trips

Some upper division courses require field trips. These include GEL 101, 103, and 109 (see above). One or all of those field trips might be overnighters. Sometimes camping involves dry camping. Dry camping is when you camp at an authorized location that does not have running water and possibly does not have chemical latrines.

The weekend camping trips involves every eligible member of the class being assigned one or two camp jobs. This is intended to help streamline things a bit before camp, at camp, and after camp.

The geology department will not provide basic camping equipment such as tarps/tent pads, tents, sleeping bags, sleeping pads. You must buy, rent, or share such equipment.

The geology department will provide kitchen kits. They are color coded containers full of camp kitchen equipment. They are checked out to groups of students. They are responsible for that equipment. This means that students must agree on what food to bring and ensure everyone is equally liable for the costs. The camp kitchen includes a two burner stove, pots and pans and some utensils. Plates and cups may not be included. Gas is provided by large tanks that can hook up two camp stoves and one light. It is unknown if student(s) can avoid the group cooking experience (after a long day, it can be fun or simply frustrating). Water is provided, of course. Finally, if applicable, a Brunton compass will be issued to each student, each pair of students, or each group of students. It all depends on how many students there are.


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